Former jail warden apparently settles case against county

·2 min read

Jul. 22—A former Crawford County jail warden who filed a lawsuit against the county claiming he was forced out of his job in 2019 apparently has settled the case.

Kenneth Saulsbery filed suit in May 2020 in Crawford County Court of Common Pleas claiming his October 2019 resignation as warden was coerced by two of the county's three commissioners. His suit also named Commissioners Francis Weiderspahn Jr. and Christopher Soff as defendants.

A settlement agreement between the county and Saulsbery is expected to be acted upon by county commissioners at their voting meeting next week. Following Wednesday's work session, commissioners declined comment to the Tribune on terms of the settlement until after they formally take action next week.

Saulsbery resigned from his more-than-$67,000-a-year job as the jail's warden in October 2019, but claimed his resignation was coerced.

Saulsbery first filed a federal civil rights suit against only Crawford County in U.S. District Court in Erie in February 2020, but it was dismissed that April at his request.

Saulsbery then filed suit against the county and Weiderspahn and Soff in May 2020 in county court.

Saulsbery's suit claimed that in early October 2019 he was told by Weiderspahn and Soff that he could either "resign or be fired" because of anonymous complaints about him berating jail employees. Saulsbery denied the allegations, the suit stated.

The suit claimed Saulsbery was wrongfully discharged as the two county commissioners themselves didn't have the authority to terminate him, but required approval of a majority of the Crawford County Prison Board. The county's three commissioners were part of the six-member board in October 2019. The three other seats were held by the district attorney, county treasurer and county sheriff.

In a ruling in October 2020, Senior Judge Christopher St. John dismissed Saulsbery's claims against the two commissioners, citing their public official immunity, but did also allow him to file an amended complaint.

Saulsbery filed an appeal with Commonwealth Court in March of this year. It was followed in May with court filings of a notice to settle and discontinue the case.

Keith Gushard can be reached at (814) 724-6370 or by email at

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